Due to its German heritage and military tradition, Metz has yet to earn much respect in the eyes of the French. Most of the criticism about Metz is clichéd and unwarranted; in fact, Strasbourg has stronger German heritage yet has been overwhelmingly embraced by the French and visitors alike. Metz was the birthplace of the Carolingian Dynasty before becoming the capital of the burgeoning Kingdom of Lotharingia (855-958AD); then it was the capital of the Duchy of Upper Lorraine (959-1233) before finally breaking away to form an independent city state during the high Middle Ages (1234-1552AD). As such, Metz was one of the most powerful cities in feudal Europe and this rich cultural history can still be seen today, particularly in its grand Cathedral and its beautiful old town built using the "pierre de Jaumont", a local yellow colored limestone.
Even though Metz is close to Luxembourg and Germany, locals are not fluent in German and speak French just as in any other French city. The local dialect (Platt) is spoken in some parts of northern and eastern Moselle but has never been spoken in Metz.
There is a small regional airport for Metz and Nancy (code: ETZ), located southeast of Metz. This mainly handles commercial traffic, but there are passenger flights to/from Paris, Lyon, Algiers, and several Italian destinations.
Metz is also reachable by train (including TGV), with connections to/from Paris, Luxembourg, and Strasbourg. The train station is at the southern edge of the city center. You should note that if you have a eurail pass you will probably not be able to leave for a few weeks (you must make reservations way in advance).
Driving in the centre of town is not recommended. Park in one of the parking areas (well-marked from the main roads in) and walk or use public transport.
Be aware of immigrant beggars in parking areas offering to watch your car and approaching you at ticket machines when your wallet is in your hand. Local police refuse to prevent this activity even though they accept it is illegal and keeps visitors away.
Everything in the city centre is easily accessible on foot, and much of the main downtown/shopping area is pedestrianised. Be warned, though, that there are a few hills!
- Bikes are also a great way to get around, though the same comment about hills applies here too.
- If the weather is nice, rent a bike and head south along the river Moselle in the direction of Nancy or Thionville. Paths are well-marked, well-maintained, and mostly flat. Bikes are available next to the train station or across the street from the cathedral. Cost is €10 per day (but requires a credit card number or cash deposit of €100 per bike).
- Cathedrale St-Etienne, place d'Armes. The Cathedral is a truly impressive structure, overlooking the river and the city. Inside, both its height (the third-tallest nave in France) and its stained glass windows (reportedly the largest surface area in France, with several by Chagall) will impress visitors.
- Place d'Armes. This square next to the cathedral is notable for the four buildings that surround it. They were specifically designed to show the balance between the various local powers: religion (the cathedral), the military (now converted to the tourist office), civil government (the town hall) and justice (the court building). Place d'Armes also hosts a regular market for produce and other local goods. The tourist office is along one side of Place d'Armes.
- Covered Market (opposite the cathedral). Historically it was the bishops' palace, today it hosts stalls selling meats, cheeses, and other regional specialities.
- Opera-Théâtre (not far from the Cathedral). Theatre and opera house, built between 1732 and 1752 and the oldest in France.
- Railway Station (Gare de Metz-Ville). Built in 1908, its imperial area built during the German occupation.
Museums and galleries
- Centre Pompidou-Metz (near the Central Station). Recently opened modern art gallery in Metz. €7.
- Musée de la Cour d'Or, 2, rue du Haut Poirier, ☎ +33 3 87 20 13 20. Every day except Tuesday, from 9am to 18pm. Closed on 1 January, Good Friday, 1 May, 14 July, 1 and 11 November and 31 December 24-25-26 all day.. Roman baths, Gallo-Roman collections, sculpture, European paintings, etc. €4.60.
- La Maison de Verlaine à Metz (The House of Verlaine in Metz), 2 rue Haute-Pierre, 57000 Metz (opposite the "Palais de Justice"), ☎ +33 6 34 52 22 34, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Tuesday through Sunday, with visits beginning at 15:15 and 16:30 by reservation only. Closed from 1 January-15 February and on certain national holidays. Covers the 19th-century poet's Lorraine origins, his life and career in Metz and Paris, his meeting with Arthur Rimbaud, his works, and his posthumous fame. €7.
- In December, Christmas markets can be found in many places. They are the best places to drink hot mulled wine (vin chaud).
- If you want to see sport games, professional teams includes: FC Metz (football), H2ML (women's handball), SMEC (men's handball and table tennis), RC Metz (rugby). If you want to see ice hockey games, you can drive to Amneville which is home of the "Amneville Galaxians".
- Le Bouche a Oreille, 46 place St, ☎ +33 3 87 15 14 66. Louis. Open middays and evenings except Su and Sa/Mo midday. Specialises in dishes containing cheese in some form or other: omelettes, meats with cheese sauces, crepes/galesins, etc. The food is very good quality and very reasonably priced, served in a clean comfortable setting.
- Da Luigi, 39 Rue Jardins, ☎ +33 3 87 75 12 50. Decent Italian restaurant which specializes in pizza. Located less than 5 minutes by foot from Place d'Armes.
- Restaurant des Roches, 27 Rue Roches, ☎ +33 3 87 74 06 51. Cuisine "gastronomique traditionnelle." One of the nicer restaurants in Metz. With two menus, one at 35€ and the other at 50€, it's not the cheapest option in Metz, but the price matches the service and quality. Full wine menu.
- Le Serpenoise, 18 Avenue Robert Schuman. Kebab shop and hookah lounge just next to Place de la Republique. Better than average kebab in a very convenient location.
- Crêperie Le Saint Malo, 14 Rue Clercs, ☎ +33 3 87 74 56 85. Classic Bretagne creperie. Large selection of both savory and sweet crepes. Friendly atmosphere and reasonable prices. Don't forget to have cider with dinner!
- Lexis Alanya Snack, 6 Rue Paul Bezanson (Next to Pasta Mano). Fast food restaurant located in the heart of the old city. Great kebab and great location. Grab a kebab and bring it back to one of the fine drinking establishments surrounding the shop.
- Irish Pub, ☎ +33 3 87 37 01 38. The, 3 Place de Chambre. That bar may have French owners, it has all the elements of a typical Irish pub.
- La Chenille Bleue, 9 rue Mazelle, ☎ +33 3 87 15 11 08. close @2, 3 on weekends. A nice hookah lounge in what looks like an old wine cellar with neat arched ceilings. Can get a liter of Stella Artois for 7€, or they have a great international beer selection.
- Comédie Café, 2 Rue du Pont des Roches, ☎ +33 3 87 36 56 97. One of the cheapest bars in Metz. Happy hour every night until 8pm. 2€ pints and 10€ 50 pitchers of Amos, a local brew. Young and lively crowd. Trivia every Tuesday. cheap.
- Vivian's Pub Fairy, Place St Louis. 19:00-02:00, most nights. Old-style pub with decor not that unlike a medieval watering hole. Good selection of alcohol at reasonable prices. Enjoy a beer on the plaza in the warmer months or duck inside in the winter and warm up with an Irish coffee.
- Les Berthom, 24 Rue du Palais, ☎ +33 3 87 75 25 52. Bar specializing in Belgian brews. Enormous selection of Belgian beers both on tap and bottled. Great atmosphere, though crowded during happy hour. Mixed, but generally young crowd. Drinks are mid-priced, which is why everyone packs in during happy hour in order to enjoy a Trappist beer without burning a hole in their pocket.
- Hotel Metropole, 5, place du General de Gaulle, ☎ +33 387662622. Convenient (opposite train station), clean. 72 rooms. There is a back landing near the kitchen where bicycles can be stored. Double from €63.
Metz is quite a safe town. Even so, it might be a good idea to avoid suburbs like Borny or St Eloy, and the old town's small alleys by night.
In the centre, some people are likely to ask you to give them some money or a cigarette. Feel free to say no.
Don't walk from Lafayette to Resam (Résidence Arts & Métiers de Metz-Technopôle) late at night.
- Amnéville, small town 10 km north of Metz, that features an indoor skiing hall, a casino, two thermal centers, a zoo, a large swimming pool, an ice-rink and the largest arena in eastern France, all in the same area.
- World War II Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial: Take Highway N-3 about 45 kilometers (28 miles) east to Saint-Avold then go north on Highway N-33 for 1.2 kilometers (3/4 mile). Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM to 5PM The cemetery is the second largest American cemetery in Europe and is the final resting place for 10,489 American military dead lost during the drive to push the Germans from France. A monument is inscribed with the names of 444 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. The memorial contains mosaic maps of World War II campaigns. Free. The largest American Cemetery and Memorial is in Meuse-Argonne France, which covers 130.5 acres, rest the largest number of American military dead in Europe, a total of 14,246. Most of those buried here lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. It is one hour and 15 minutes away from Metz.
- Thionville, 30 km north of Metz, is Moselle's second largest town.